Thu, Aug 14, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Chen’s lawyer rebuffs ‘Next’ story

WIRE TRANSFER ALLEGATIONSRichard Lee said Chen Shui-bian would give a clear account of his actions but he hoped prosecutors would stop spreading rumors

By Ko Shu-Ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

A lawyer for former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday rejected allegations by Next Magazine that Chen used his daughter-in-law and her family to launder money and had secretly wired NT$300 million (US$9.63 million) abroad.

Calling the allegations “false” and “misleading,” attorney Richard Lee (李勝琛) said that Chen and his wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), had put all their assets into trust since April 2004 and that Wu sold all her stocks in May 2006, adding that the couple annually declared their assets to the Control Yuan.

They never wired money overseas through their daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚) or any of her family members, Lee said.

Chen did not understand why prosecutors have spread false information while his “state affairs fund” case is still being investigated, Lee said.

The former president would offer a clear account of the allocation of the discretionary fund in court but would not compromise national secrets, Lee said, adding that Chen hoped the media would refrain from repeating false information.

Chen had used the “state affairs fund” for public purposes only and never pocketed any of the money, Lee said.

The latest edition of Next claims that prosecutors learned from the Egmont Group, an international association of financial intelligence organizations, that Chen had used Huang and her family members to wire NT$300 million out of the country.

The magazine said Wu closed all her accounts and those of her husband at the end of 2006 and wired the money, along with that of their son Chen Chih-chung (陳致中) and daughter Chen Hsing-yu (陳幸妤) abroad through Huang and her family.

The amount sent overseas was estimated at NT$300 million, Next said, adding that the total could exceed NT$1 billion if other “suspicious” capital was accounted for.

Former director of the Presidential Office secretariat Lin Te-hsun (林德訓) confronted former Presidential Office treasurer Chen Cheng-hui (陳鎮慧) about the NT$300 million when he learned of it late last year, the magazine said.

Chen Cheng-hui told Lin that she had not wired the money, so Lin went to Chen Shui-bian but ended up believing that the prosecutors had not made up the allegations, the magazine said.

Next said Singaporean officials had informed the Investigation Bureau’s Money Laundering Prevention Center about irregular money transfers in 2006 and the US passed on similar data last year.

Singapore and the US are members of the Egmont Group, and the US was careful about relaying the data because it concerned a head of state, Next said.

Lin rejected Next’s claims yesterday, saying its report was far from the truth.

Asked for comment, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Secretary-General Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) urged the former president to publicize details of his family’s bank accounts to prove his innocence.

KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said he thought the public would choose to believe the allegations because of “the bold way the Chen Shui-bian family handled their wealth.”

He did not elaborate.

Additional reporting by Flora Wang

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